Van Cliburn, Tchaikovsky concerto No. 1 in flat minior ofp. 23
Rachmaninoff: concerto No2 in Minor, Op.18
Fritz Reiner/Chicago Symphony Orchestra
What a story there is behind this recording! When Van Cliburn won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow at the height of the Cold War with his playing of this concerto, it created an international sensation. The recording followed immediately thereafter, and Cliburn was launched on an international career of unprecedented celebrity for a classical musician. Perhaps the attention was too much, too soon, given his subsequent burn-out and retirement from public life. Fortunately, we have these unique recordings to document what was, by all accounts, a genuine phenomenon. This is the disc "heard 'round the world." --David Hurwitz
Sing along symphonies by Beethoven's Wig are zany stick-in-your-head lyrics set to the greatest hits of classical music. Filled with fact and fancy about the world's most notable composers and their masterpieces, each Sing along symphony opens the door to "serious music" in a way that's fun! symphony no. 5 in C minor, Hungarian rhapsody, for piano no. 2 in C sharp, serenade no. 13 for strings in G major and many more! CD contains 11 song collection of Sing along symphonies and the same 11 song collection of orchestral performances without lyrics.
Inspired and wildly imaginative, Beethoven's Wig is one of the best introductions to classical music you could give to your children. Featuring snippets of 11 classical music staples--Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Haydn, et al.--the disc and its creators, Richard Perlmutter and friends, pour on the silly lyrics the first time around to familiarize young ears to the old masters. Then in the last half of the record, the orchestra plays the same "serious" music pieces instrumentally. You might cheerfully recall Alan Sherman's popular spoofs of old classical works in Wig and you'll again chuckle at pieces like "Drip, Drip, Drip," which adapts Delibes's "Pizzicato from Sylvia." You'll also marvel at the expertise throughout the CD, with all the pieces well played yet thoroughly fun. Beethoven's Wig is an orchestral treasure with a sense of humor as old or as new as its listeners (and the fun questions that run throughout the CD's liner notes are almost as entertaining as the zany musical interludes). Highly recommended. --Martin Keller
- Timeless classic
- Great for the whole family
- Full length CD
This staging, by Robert Carsen, of Tchaikovsky's popular romantic opera was broadcast live to cinemas worldwide from the Metropolitan Opera to great critical acclaim in February 2007. Renee Fleming and Dmitri Hvorostovsky star as the doomed lovers in Pushkin's tragic tale of unrequited love and their onstage chemistry made for some rave reviews. Valery Gergiev, widely considered to be Russia's greatest living conductor, leads the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus.
This set, filmed at the Metropolitan Opera's February 2007 performances of Tchaikovsky's most popular opera, has just about everything going for it: an all-star cast in peak form, a great orchestra led by today's leading Russian conductor, and a striking stage production whose minimalist, often stark, sets manage to superbly suit this most Romantic of operas.
Drawn from Pushkin's classic, the opera tightly focuses on the story of Tatiana, a naive young girl who declares her love for a dashing rake (Onegin) who rejects her overtures. His arrogance surfaces leads to flirting with his best friend's fiancée and then to killing him in a duel. Plagued by remorse, a superficially reformed but still impossibly self-centered Onegin meets Tatiana at a ball, but now the childish country bumpkin is the glamorous wife of a Prince. He declares his love but she rejects him and leaves him alone, a solitary, tragic figure.
Renée Fleming's Tatiana is a triumph, her gorgeous soprano voice, intense acting and precise characterization make the complex young woman come alive. Her "Letter Scene," in which the singer must reveal the innermost thoughts of a confused soul, is as good as it gets, as Fleming fully reveals the young woman's joyous hopes of requited love and also her fears of rejection. In the final act, she's still attracted to the dashing Onegin but resolved to preserve her marriage. In the title role, Dmitri Hvorostovsky is her equal; his firm baritone fits the music like a velvet glove and his acting matches Fleming's in its intensity. He's especially fine in his last-act monologue, bursting with despair and passion. Tchaikovsky gave the work's most beautiful arias to Lenski, Onegin's friend. Ramon Vargas' mellifluous tenor is well-suited to the lyricism of Lenski's Act One love aria and to the poignant aria before his duel with Onegin. Lenski's anger at his friend in the ball scene is palpably menacing. As Olga, Tatiana's high-spirited sister and Lenski's fiancée, Elena Zaremba is fully up to the rest of the cast, her rich mezzo and pointed phrasing a strong point. Sergei Aleksaskin's Prince Gremin is a dignified presence, Larisa Schevchenko as Tatiana's old nurse is convincing, and the smaller roles are well sung and acted. Jean-Paul Fouchécourt is not only in excellent voice in the beautiful aria of Triquet, Tatiana's French tutor, but manages to invest his song with an apt touch of parody as well. Valery Gergiev's conducting is a major asset, and the MET Orchestra is in terrific form, with special kudos due to the soulful clarinet solos that are so important in the musical texture.
Producer Robert Carson imbues the work with Romantic glow and Michael Levine's spare sets are far more effective than one might think. The stage is strewn with leaves and framed by textured rods doing duty as birch trees in Act One; the ball scene similarly framed by a rectangle of chairs and side tables, both sets analogues for the character's imprisonment in their unbridled emotions. Video director Brian Large keeps his cameras well-focused on the action, to complete an Onegin that's the DVD version to get. --Dan Davis